New Mexico woman, 42, dies after contracting deadly rodent disease

New Mexico woman, 42, dies after contracting deadly rodent disease

  • A 42-year-old woman from McKinley County, New Mexico, died after being diagnosed with hantavirus
  • The virus is contracted by coming into contact with infected rodent droppings and can cripple the heart, lungs and other organs
  • The woman’s condition developed into Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, which caused her to go into respiratory failure 

A 42-year-old New Mexico woman has died after she contracted a rare and deadly rat disease.  

The state’s Department of Health says the woman, from McKinley County, was diagnosed with hantavirus, a disease spread through rodent droppings that cripples the organs.

This developed into Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), which caused the woman to go into respiratory failure.

Health officials conducted an environmental investigation at the woman’s home, but didn’t release any details about how she contracted the virus.    

A 42-year-old woman from McKinley County in New Mexico died after contracting hantavirus, a disease spread by coming into contact with rodent droppings, which cripples the organs. Pictured: A deer mouse, the most common carrier of the hantavirus strain in New Mexico

This is the second case of HPS confirmed in New Mexico in 2019, and the first death. 

Last month, a 50-year-old woman, also from McKinley County, was hospitalized with the virus, but recovered. 

Kathy Kunkel, the state’s health secretary, urged the state’s residents to be cautious when cleaning or going outside.

‘We urge New Mexicans to be mindful when they are opening up sheds, cabins and other buildings that have been closed up as mice and other rodents may have moved in,’ she said in a news release. 

‘It’s best to air out cabins and sheds before entering them and wet down droppings with a disinfectant.’ 

The rare virus is caused by coming into contact with infected rodent droppings, urine, saliva, nesting materials, or inhaling particles from these. 

In New Mexico, the most common carrier of the hantavirus strain is the deer mouse.

Diagnosis can be difficult because early symptoms, such as fever, muscle aches and chills, often resemble other more common viruses such as the flu. 

In the lungs, leaky blood vessels cause flooding in the air sacs, making it difficult for patients to breathe.     

When the virus infects the heart, the damage reduces the organ’s ability to circulate blood through the body. This causes critically low blood pressure and a lack of oxygen throughout the body.

The infection can lead to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, which can lead to respiratory failure and death in about half of cases.

There is currently no cure for hantavirus, but recovery is possible when sufferers are diagnosed early and receive prompt medical care.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, just three cases of the virus were reported last year.